Friday Good

Today I rolled out of bed, climbed from the loft and hurried to get ready in twenty minutes. I burnt an egg, forgot my Bible, and brushed my teeth while texting E apologies that I was running late, even though it was my appointment to which I was late. I hardly remembered as I slid my macbook into the bright timbuktu bag, I hardly realized it was a day other than Friday. I only thought once, in a momentary glance at my Bible, splayed out on the coffee table to pages in Isaiah, I barely remembered in that instant that this Friday was more than just the last day of Spring Break and the day that Ethan’s parents would be in town.

Twenty minutes isn’t time to contemplate Good Friday.

We drove through construction, always Colorado spends the time between winter snows under construction. Like some bizarre metaphor for life: that we’re always under process, except when ice and frozen earth bring us to grinding halt. But even then, with the water in the grooves of the road, melting and freezing with each day’s cycle, even then there is process and change; even if we don’t see it until the cracks have spread to wide gaping holes.

I lay on the table at the chiropractor, wincing beneath the hands of massage and adjustment. My knee stretches out and back in, and when he’s pushing on a certain point in the muscle I can feel the pain radiate to both ends of my leg, and he’s shaking his head that I want to go rock climbing today. My body is broken, and I want to do what? But he sighs and gives me permission, says it won’t help but it probably won’t make things worse.

An old friend, one who has helped immeasurably with Ethan’s business start, texted E this morning while we were waiting through that construction zone. Something about writing a reference and at the end of his cheery morning message, left a little wish: Good Friday to you. But there was hardly time to think of that when we were driving me to work, and shuttling E off to his own last day at a lingering worksite that seems to push back with everything he does.

I came in to work and found an email where I was graciously dragged over hot coals. Sometimes, when they’re being polite, the anger is almost more severe, the disappointment more stinging. And apparently the office is closing early today, though no one told me and my hours are all over the place for this month’s paycheck, this month’s survival. Why are we closing early?

Good Friday.

Because today is the day that Jesus died. The day that he — God come down among us — let himself be stripped, broken, crushed and crucified. Last week he was riding in, prophetic statements abounding and triumph seeming close at hand. Tonight, at Tenebrae, he’ll not make a noise as he goes to the slaughter, like the sheep they killed each Passover: quiet, calm, resolute and sure. In darkness and shadows we’ll remember the one who took on fallen humanity, took on my broken body, my harried pace, my unkempt sin and put it to death with the piercing of his hands, and torn back, crushed side and bloodied head. And in his death he took on the curse: the bold rebellion of sin within humanity and the bruised earth suffering beneath, fighting back at you and me, even as we fight amongst ourselves.

Because Jesus came, came to do this act of love. Came to take me on, broken and angry. Came to walk at Ethan’s side, tired and frustrated. Came to walk among us, know us, reveal the One to us, and then in the most unexpected act in history: came to fling out his arms, take on all our mess and ruined humanity, and in his great, bloody embrace, came to take it all away.

Thus says your Lord, the LORD, even your God Who contends for His people, “Behold, I have taken out of your hand the cup of reeling, The chalice of My anger; You will never drink it again.

Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted.

But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.

By oppression and judgment He was taken away;
And as for His generation, who considered That He was cut off out of the land of the living,
For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?

My brokenness, forever under repair, my fallen nature evidenced in a body that so easily falls apart, the sin that makes me rush instead of wait, wait on the Lord, those things for which I am due much, much more than strained knees and abrasive emails, for that he took on flesh and carried away the cup of wrath: from me, from the nations, from the earth.

All this on a Friday we so desperately and hopefully call Good.

 

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Absorbing

Just when things appear to calm down in Gaza it looks like problems are growing in Egypt. Ending Hosni Mubarak’s reign two years ago has plunged the country into turmoil that always straightens out temporarily before falling into strife again. Now it looks like they might be headed for Sharia law in sweeping reforms planned for the constitution. I have friends in the Middle East and they have not been affected by the violence in either of these troubled countries but they are certainly aware of the precarious position they hold: as foreigners, as women, as Christians. As I’ve been thinking about the various situations, I keep coming back to something a professor said rather recently.

About a month ago Ethan and I had the opportunity to attend a lecture at a DU (a university in Denver) where a partnership between their seminary and undergraduate program hosted Hector Avalos, a professor and philosopher (if one can use that term rather broadly). Avalos spoke regarding his book Fighting Words: The Origins of Religious Violence. I do not have the time to give a summary of his book/discussion except to say that he suggests religion creates scarce resources by designating who is “in” or “out” and who can interpret the word of God or lay claim to authority. While the book is, apparently, about Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Professor Avalos made a more specific attack against Christianity as he gave a sweeping overview of Biblical texts and persons, ending by calling Jesus Christ the most hateful person who has ever lived.

Dr. Richard Hess was on a panel of two speakers who were given about ten minutes to respond to Prof Avalos. The first speaker, whose name I do not recall, posed a few questions and ambiguities in Avalos’ argument. Dr. Hess, on the other hand, had a fully outlined response that included explanations of those texts which Avalos had reinterpreted outside context (both linguistically, culturally and canonically) as well as an alternative view.

Hess admitted that often in her history the church has responded to various things through violence, just as Avalos claimed. This, however, is perhaps what Jesus called his people to, according to Hess. Instead, he shared two stories of Christians that he believed exemplified the call of Jesus. The first was of a man during WW2 in a concentration camp who was but into a barracks with ten other men and left to starve. He led the men in mass each day, prayers and singing as they died off, one by one. Instead of the usual fighting among those imprisoned, Fr Martin brought them to their eventual end with peace and hope. In the end, he was the last to die and willingly accepted death at the hands of the Nazis. The second story was of two Amish girls in Lancaster, PA. When their school was invaded by an armed gunman, two young Amish girls asked to be killed first in an attempt to delay the man from executing the others and provide a chance for them to escape. Dr. Hess choked up during this story as Lancaster is his hometown and the story was close to his heart.

This, he said, was the alternative to religious violence: absorbing evil.

Jesus, on the cross did not condemn his killers or promise retribution. Instead, he looked down, begged the Father to forgive them and then died for the sins of those inflicting his death. Instead of causing violence and evil, Dr. Hess pointed to this ultimate example of accepting and absorbing evil into ourselves.

As we watch the Middle East in turmoil, I wonder what our part is in the midst of this? I think we stand for the oppressed, the ones who cannot stand for themselves. I think we do that by forgiving those who hurt us, by speaking out on behalf of the broken, and then instead of reacting in like manner, we take in the violence, the evil, the sin and we put it to death by refusing to return an eye for an eye.

I don’t live in Gaza or Egypt, and it may seem easy for me to say that behind the walls of my apartment, where Christmas lights glow merrily and Ethan’s iPod plays banjo music at my side. But I don’t think my distance makes it any less true.

Gaza

There’s trouble brewing in Gaza. Well, it’s a bit more than trouble. I haven’t researched the current situation enough to give an informed opinion but all of my reading over the past several years has led to the following conclusion:

Israel and Palestinian leaders are both at fault. Innocent people (by western, non-religious standards) have been killed on both sides in this extremely complex issue. I am often astounded by the way that American Christians uphold Israel as though it is a nation of pure motives, who can do no wrong and is always acting in self defense. While it appears that Palestinian militants started this one, I think it is unwise for believers to stand behind Israel so emphatically without care or concern for those on the other side–some of those are our brothers and sisters in the faith, let’s not forget them! I think that instead of taking sides, instead of pointing fingers, etc we are called to pray. There are hurt people, defenseless people, frightened children, desperate mothers on bothsides of those walls and in what is shaping up to be a legitimate ground war, we should not forget one group as we vehemently support another.

This photo is of graffiti on the wall surrounding Bethlehem that divides Palestinians and Israeli’s. The text is Ephesians 2.14. (See the picture in context at Aaron Niequist’s blog)

I think the most important thing to do is not to pray for Israel’s success, for further estrangement between the two peoples, or some apocalyptic end of the world on December 20th by means of an Israeli/Palestinian ground war that goes viral. I think we should be praying for peace. Peace in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, the Golan Heights, Gaza and the entire region. It has long been a volatile place in the world. As people of peace, we should be on our knees, asking God to work reconciliation in the heart of his creation and we should be about the business of serving those afflicted whether they speak Hebrew or Arabic.

This, I think, is our calling as believers and followers of the Nazarene who told us to be shalom-makers (Matt 5.9) and who gave us the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor 5.18).

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News Sources: BBC, Washington Post

WHY: txtng

I don’t really do New Year’s Resolutions. But this year I had decided I would stop texting and driving. I read an article that someone else had blogged about how they were obsessed with their smart phone to the point where it was interfering with their family life. He made the comment that texting and driving put not only him in danger but also his family and others on the road who he didn’t even know. Recognizing that it was a bigger deal than just the one texting pushed me to quit. It worked for awhile, but I’m really good at texting without looking at my keyboard. It’s probably because I am on my computer so much and I never look then either; I can feel the board on my phone too so I can walk, drive, hike, etc without looking down to see what I’m typing. So it seemed that I didn’t really have a chance of putting someone–even myself–in danger.

Last night I saw two accidents on my drive home. In the darkness near an exit ramp that isn’t well lit, the entire highway was blocked off and there were two cars that had been crunched to unusable scraps of metal. In the flashing lights of emergency vehicles I could see a stretcher. and it wasn’t being carried to the ambulance. It was just sitting there, the red and blue lights eerily reflecting off the metal of the stretching that just sat there, useless.

Then, I had to swerve to miss another accident on the next highway. Six cars blocked up three of the six lanes, surrounded by four or five cop cars, and two fire trucks. I caught a glimpse of them pulling a woman with stringy blonde hair from a battered black jetta.

It was like a horrific flashback to the accident in Seattle when I drove past K’s car, hardly recognizing it in its precarious perch on top of another. I couldn’t stop thinking of the ER, where Keeleh and Anthony had to leave the room as I adjusted K’s leg, with blood spilling from the knee cap. I remembered the endless hours at the hospital, most of which she won’t ever recall thanks to the “happy button” of morphine that dulled the endless, gnawing pain.

And while I don’t know what caused the accidents last night, even though K’s accident wasn’t because of texting, I turned my phone over so I couldn’t see the screen and I said to myself that it just isn’t worth risking. It’ll be hard because I’m attached to that little hunk of blue metal, but I’m done texting and driving.

Tragedy

When I arrived at work this morning, I had no idea that my boss would be waiting at the door for me with news of a tragedy just miles from where I live. In case you  haven’t heard, a gunman entered a midnight showing of the Batman movie and opened fire after throwing in tear gas. So far, everyone I know is safe. The closest thing was a friend who tried getting tickets to the show but they had already sold out. M told me that she woke up to 6 anxious texts, and I’ve been fielding calls, texts and FB messages all morning.

I took the girls to Panera for breakfast. We ate bagels with cream cheese and sat in the air conditioning, filled with bustling customers who hardly took notice that the world had shifted in the early hours before dawn. The girls told me about their fish, about their upcoming trip to the mountains. All I could think was what a hard time it’s been in Colorado. I know other places have tragedies. I have been known to be a news junkie and I stay updated on too many world events. But Colorado, from Columbine when I was a kid, to the fires when I was a teen, then fires this summer, shootings at churches and now this–Colorado has had a rough go.

We took the long way home, through Daniel’s Park, because I thought, what if I never saw the park again? What if this was the last chance to view the mountains? The sky was such a sweet powder blue, so clear and clean, the colour belonged in the nursery for a newborn babe. The clouds were light and round, fluffy as cotton straight from a Mississipi field. It was surreal. Such things could not have happened when the day had dawned so perfect and beautiful.

I overheard a woman today at Panera say that she keeps waiting for life to “just happen,” as though she’s waiting for life to be lived instead of doing the living herself.

There are so many questions: FB and Twitter are exploding with “why God” and “how could He” and just plain old “why”?

But my friend S who attended Columbine would tell you there will never be an answer to the Why questions. We don’t know and we can’t. We can only choose to be love. I don’t know why it wasn’t JB, D or me and E who were at the theatre. It was senseless, it was horrific and tragic. All we can do is pray for those who lost someone, and move forward without forgetting that there are more important things than our houses, our things and our goals. There is only time, and never enough of that. And there are loved ones and people to care for outside our immediate circles.

And that, I think, may be all we can do. Choose to love; and pray that He comes.

pray that He comes quickly.

Poe: our favourite morbid American poet and a doctrinal summaries paper

”The death of a beautiful woman, is unquestionably the most poetical topic in the world.” [E. A. Poe]

It’s a bit morbid, granted, but I’ve been thinking about this statement a good deal over the week. I have an app on my macbook that gives me quotes from Edgar Allen Poe every time I scroll over the particular desktop where it is located. Some are more amusing than the one above. For instance, I just glanced back and read this one: ”If you wish to forget anything on the spot, make a note that this thing is to be remembered.” It is so true! Annoyingly true!

But as I said, I’d been thinking about the death of a beautiful woman, and considering why that would be a rather poetic thing to consider. Let’s be honest, Poe was a bizarre individual. He wrote beautiful, imaginative poetry and narratives. Some of them are haunting simply because they are so well described and the reader can easily envision the words he tells. I remember having nightmares in high school about The House of Usher. (There is a reason I don’t watch horror movies.)

But there is more to the quote than Poe’s obsession with analyzing, describing and memorializing death. Think of the classics we read in high school: The Killer Angels, Anthem, Animal Farm, Asher Lev, etc. Granted, not all of those listed have death at the focal point, but there is a sense of darkness in all of them, something that pervades the stories and something that we desperately read over and over and over.

I just finished a paper from my Doctrine I class. It’s a doctrinal summaries paper. [Thrilling title, I know.] In essence, I had to choose six doctrines and give three different perspectives on each. If you know me at all, the three theologians won’t be difficult to guess: Wayne Grudem, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Integrative. I wrote on the Trinity, immanence vs transcendence, general revelation, scriptural authority, the imago dei and the transmission of the sin nature. If you don’t know what all those are, or you simply don’t care, bear with me. I won’t give you the 22 pages I’m handing in on Monday. Promise.

The imago dei (image of God) and the transmission of the sin nature were the two most difficult doctrines for me to work with.  I think it’s because the compassion in me wants to hope for the best, to pray we aren’t as warped and distorted by sin as Paul claims. But I’m a fairly strict Calvinist most days and last night I whispered to my new nephew that he was beautiful, handsome and perfect–except for being totally depraved. He giggled as I nuzzled his cheek and clucked my tongue and my father roared in laughter. Some of us, I muttered, are obsessed with being theologically correct, even with a nephew who can’t hold his head up.

But it’s true, you know. Did you see that man run the red light on your way home from work last night? Did you hear about the dictator killing his own people? They are broken, ruined by the fall. Yet, there isn’t only that. Did you hear about the people who ave money to Blood Water to build wells for people they’ll never even meet? Did you see the way that teenager held the door open for you as you walked out the door with too many things in your hands?

There is this awkward tension between the goodness of humanity, the reasoning, the grace, the mental abilities, the beauty we can create, the impulse to create and hope and dream–coupled with the tendency to fight, to destroy and use our abilities for creating new, more efficient ways of killing each other, for gaining power and ruining the earth. It is not as though every human being is as bad as they possibly could be. Total depravity simply says every aspect of human nature has been compromised.

Coming back to Poe, we must remember that there is, despite the complications, still beauty in the world. Today the earth is bright and flushed with colours because of the thunderstorm last night. The girls I nanny giggled today, making faces, playing peekaboo and when one cried the other hugged her and found a toy to comfort her. “You’re okay, Lil’” she said, “mommy will be home soon. Don’t cry.” There is tenderness among humans that can not be explained except for our high position, bearing the image of an intrinsically good and relational God.

Poe says the death of a beautiful woman is poetic.

I think he could have said the death of anyone with beauty is poetic. There’s something in human nature that recognizes the problem of death. We see that this is not how things were meant to be and it is most clearly reflected by the death of beauty. In a strange way, we see our depravity, our hopeless state when darkness swallows up fleeting glory and beauty. This isn’t how it was meant to be, our soul whispers, and then we put words around the phenomenon to try and understand it.

In the end, Christians have a sense of hope. We look forward to a time when the image will no longer be distorted and we will not give birth to another crooked generation. Instead, the imago dei and humanity will be renewed at the end of days to our former glory. At that point, in our ontological reformation, we will only produce that which is good, holy and pure as we were originally intended to do.

In that day, we will not need death to remind us that something is missing. Because in that day, it will be missing no longer.

Good Friday

I would love to post something brilliant, deep and full of wisdom for the somber day that we woke to.

Unfortunately, there are no brilliant words of wisdom that come to mind….

The wind howled last night, during my OT Prophets class and she pushed my little Hyundai to and fro on the highway as I made my way across town. It was a long day, an exhausting day. I returned home to children in my apartment learning the story of God who died 2000 years ago. I snuggled under a blanket next to one of them on the couch and stared blankly ahead at the walls of our hallway. I finally made my way to bed, with flannel sheets to keep out the draft of my window beyond which the skies still blew in stormy rage.

It’s like the world knows. Like creation knows. She’s groaning. Waiting, hoping.

And I, with a hot electric pad clutched to my abdomen, I fell asleep to the sound of the wind beating against our home of brick and mortar, the sound of the earth screaming against the injustice of it all.

Today, the wind still blows, warm and dry. What was it like, to stand in the courtyard and listen to the trial? What was it like to watch the procession, the bloodied path to the city’s outskirts where the scapegoat had always been sent to die, bearing the burden of the people’s sins as he wandered into the desert beyond the camp. What was it like?

Tonight, we go to service, and we’ll remember the day that Jesus died. It’s black and dark and somber.

It is, in many ways, the darkest and most beautiful time of the year.

O sacred Head, no wounded
with grief and shame weighed down,
Now scornfully surrounded
with thorns, Thine only crown
How pale thou art with anguish,
with sore abuse and scorn!
How doth Thy visage languish
which once was bright as morn!

What Thou, my Lord, has suffered,
T’was all for sinners’ gain;
Mine, mine was the transgression,
But Thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall, my Saviour!
‘Tis I deserve Thy place;
Look on me with Thy favor,
Vouchsafe to me Thy grace.

What language shall I borrow
To thank Thee, dearest friend,
For this Thy dying sorrow,
Thy pity without end?
O make me Thine forever,
And should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never
Outlive my love for Thee. 

death

It’s winter-time. Sierra and I painted pictures of trees. We talked about how leaves fall off of trees during the winter, because things die. But I also reminded her of the summer time and how the leaves will come back, because things will return to life after a long sleep through snowy winter months.

A few friends have had grandparents struggling with health lately. This is not foreign to me, but I think I have been more distant from the deaths of the elderly in my family because of physical space and we always had a forward view of death.

This was something spoken of in a recent class. We were discussing the Last Supper and the implications of an eschatological meal when the culture in which Jesus was born was sort of obsessed with mealtimes.

And this was said:

when we face death, we must remember the meal, the fellowship, and the party.

It’s the party with the best wine, the best food, the best people around–the ones you’re close to and the ones you’ve always wanted to meet. This, my professor reminded us, is how we must view death.

It doesn’t do away with the sorrow and the lament. We weren’t supposed to die. By all means, lament and mourn and wail. Grief is normal and natural, it is important. But we have to remember that just like the trees which die during wintertime, death is necessary to bring on the next life.

The End of Childhood

That’s what they said while we waited in line for near four hours and then another two and a half in the theatre. They wore costumes and did their hair. They came into our theatre and pretended to fight each other–putting on a battle of dodging and weaving that was fairly worth the watching. They shouted it as they sat down and scattered about and munched on popcorn and hummed the ever present theme music.

“this is the end of my childhood.”
This.
Right here.
Starting at 12.01 on July 14th for 2 and a half hours.
Our mutual and cultural childhoods ended.

Or, as Daniel pointed out: our childhoods ended when the book came out several years ago and we all read the hard and beautiful end of Harry Potter’s battle with evil that threatened even the non-magical world of Muggles.

Yeah, that’s right. I was at the midnight showing of Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows pt 2, where ended a long saga that has dragged out since fifth grade when my mum told me I wasn’t allowed to read anything that suggested of witchcraft and almost wrote the teacher who had introduced them to our class.

And with the battle of Hogwarts, with the dream at Kings Cross Station, with the final horcrux, and with the dead lying on the floor of the Great Hall where they had been sorted so many years before…my childhood supposedly died.

I don’t think that’s entirely true. It’s a bit melodramatic. It’s a bit of a pathetic view on our joint (and separate) childhoods. But let’s be honest. Harry Potter is a cultural phenomenon.  You may like him or dislike him, but when I say his name you see Daniel Radcliffe and those taped glasses and you know your opinion on the matter before I’ve even finished his name.

I was talking with a friend about this recently. We both had seen the movie and we were analyzing not  only the film itself but also the experience. I went to the midnight showing. There literally was a battle staged by teenie boppers dressed up and scurrying around the front of the theatre shouting “Crucio!” “Expelliarmus!” and “Engorgio!” (I’m not sure what use an engorgement spell would be in battle, but I heard it). Finally, the evil side filled with Death Eaters and a man who had painted his face to look like He Who Must Not Be Named fell to the ground and we cheered for the victors.

Seriously. I clapped. I clapped excitedly.

Kyle went to a showing where no one but he clapped during the movie–not even when Mrs. Weasley screams at Bellatrix LeStrange “not my daughter you bitch!” and then battles the murdering witch until Bellatrix falls to the ground, dead.

How could they not cheer at that moment? It’s brilliant!

I clapped at some stupid teenagers wearing black robes probably borrowed from an older sibling’s high school graduation. Kyle’s audience didn’t respond at all.

And then, as we talked about it, we came to the point of discussing why people in my audience cheered. Why we waited in line from 530 on that night. Why we were willing to go to work the next morning despite not getting home until near 3am. Why people dressed up and ran from theatre to theatre putting on battles.

Harry Potter is a brilliant series. I love them. I read them for the first time last fall and blew through them in barely two weeks. That’s about 4000 pages, or 1,084,170 words. And I’ve re-read several of them since then. But I don’t think it’s just Harry Potter that is like this. I think there’s more to it than that.

Stories like this teach us. They remind us of who we were supposed to be. They remind us of things we were supposed to do: standing up against adversity. Being willing to die for what we know is right. Recognizing that sacrifices must sometimes be made (and yet–acknowledging the pain of those sacrifices!). And also just remembering that sometimes we simply have to fight. People aren’t drawn to movies like Harry Potter for the special effects, they aren’t drawn to Braveheart so that we can relive that time period, and they’re not drawn to Star Trek just so we can see bizarre looking creatures out of someone’s imagination. They’re drawn to it because deep inside of us we are longing for a story where there is a battle to be fought and we want to know, deep down, that good will win.
.
I think we all knew what was going to happen to Harry in the end. I think somehow we knew he had to die to defeat Voldemort. And I think we knew that Dumbledore wouldn’t make it. We were suspicious of Snape but we knew, we knew he had to be good. He’d had so long and he’d done no wrong! And we resonated with Malfoy because he was caught. How can you not become a Death Eater with parents like that? But how can you remain a Death Eater when it means killing the boy at school who saved your life? Good will out.
.
We cried when we read about Harry dying.
But we were proud.
.
He met his death with honour and bravery.
He met his death willingly.
.
He was like Aslan who was willing to die for the people he loved though he had done no wrong.
And that is what we both loved and mourned.
No one should die for that, because no one that good should have to die at all!
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There’s something in us that longs for such things.
In America there is a longing for meaning–and meaning is found in such things.
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We like stories of bravery because we want the chance to be brave ourselves.
We like stories of sacrifice because we want to remember that something is worth sacrificing for.
We like stories of danger because we want to know that this placid life isn’t all there is.
We like stories of love and heroism because deep down we long to be rescued from this hellish world.
.
Because deep down we are all longing for the story that has been told and known since before time.
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Don’t you think? I cried for Harry dying in a similar way to how I cried on Good Friday. Your heart breaks in the book as he looks in the Great Hall and says to himself that no one else will die. No one else will be sacrificed for him, or more aptly said: no one else will be sacrificed for the great evil that has overtaken the world.
.
For you and for me, that great evil is no Voldemort.
That evil is you.
That evil is me.
.
My sin yelled crucify louder than the mob that day.
Maybe even louder than your sin (for I’m a noisy, petulant child).
And Jesus died.
And he came to life.
And he rescued us.
.
His blood, like the blood of Lily Potter covered us from the curse of sin.
His blood, like the blood of Lily Potter was a covering that could not be broken.
His blood, like the mark on Harry’s forehead was a seal and sign.
His blood, like the mark on Harry’s forehead said that we were bought and paid for.
.
It was juvenile, perhaps, to sit for 7 hours at a movie theatre and to cheer for children fighting a battle that probably began before they were born or old enough to read the books which tell of it.
But, more than juvenile, it was human.
Because each human longs for the glory and heroism of God.

passing home

I told Jesus last week he could take me home. I wasn’t depressed. Just felt done. I had dropped a friend off at her house, stopped at the bank where I saw Nate from afar and paid a whole $15 to my credit card. I was headed back to “work” and the sun was so hot the road simmered in the late afternoon. I was humming a merrry tune on a Christian station and I just had this passing moment where I felt finished. “you can take me home, anytime,” I thought or prayed or said–I’m not entirely sure which.

Yesterday I was hiking with friends and we trekked through a shallow stream with deep holes that soaked up to my thighs as we scrambled moss covered walks on our way upstream to the waterfalls. And then we climbed the waterfalls–on the high steep bank covered in graveled sand. It was steep and it was a high perch where we crossed over and back down to the rear of the falls. I had to make Daniel come back for me. I was stuck, frozen in place in a precarious position with my barefeet gripping anxiously at the angled hillside. I held Daniel’s foot and scrambled for a tree root. But then, I turned around, thinking to scoot across on my rear. Almost immediately I lost my footing and slid forward a few inches towards the edge. “Shit!” I squealed. And Daniel called to Shawn to grab me. I swore again and then muttered to myself, “I told Jesus he could take me home, but I didn’t mean to go like this.”

Shawn laughed as he helped pull me across. “It’s not such a bad place, I can imagine worse places to die.”

I looked down at the water crashing happily over the smooth worn rocks into the shallow poool below. For a brief (and somewhat morbid) moment I imagined myself lying at the bottom of the rocky base, eyes vacant and soul flitting up to the wide blue sky. And I glanced at the banks marked with trees and the high rocky ridge above and felt the sunshine blazing across our backs–there are far worse ways to go.

Of course, I made it across with Shawn’s help, slid down the other side and washed off in the water with Stacie before we concluded the hike and headed out to Sonic for malts and slushes.

But I’m still done with the world. I shared a meal with a friend recently who had first come into my life as a perky and innocent young woman eager for success and full of great big dreams. But the woman I saw across the table from me at that meal was broken and empty. She’s watched her life be ripped away from her–by a terrible series of managers, two boyfriends and lately her family has almost disowned her. She’s putting a good show on. She almost convinces you that she’s okay. She wanted to be with him that night, though its cost her so much. She’ll be put to rights with her family in a few months once she straightens out some details. She’ll even find a new job soon–except she hasn’t applied for any.

I hurt for her. She’s had everything taken and she doesn’t even know Jesus to hold her together. And she’s not the only one. I have loads of friends like her. We used to joke about corrupting students at school who’d been homeschooled before arriving at college. It seemed amusing to those of us who went to public high schools and even at 17 or 18 had friends who were alcoholics and drug addicts. But now, I’ve watched people be corrupted, and I don’t like it. It’s painful and messy and the worst part is:

there’s no coming back.

Once the damage is done, it’s over. You can’t undo it. There’s healing, for sure. But there’s no complete healing htat takes it all away. Jesus is good and Jesus heals the broken hearted. But he can’t give my friend back her virginity and he can’t give another friend back her childhood with a father who wasn’t abusive or alcoholic. And he can’t give back the cousin (and brother) who died when the van wrapped around the tree. He heals, sure enough. But Jesus, I thought, I’m so done here. I’m done watching the world go to pieces and having to stand at the side watching it tear itself to apart. Just take me away.

I know I’m still here though, so apparently I can’t go home. Not yet, anyway.

And it’s not as though I’m going to throw myself into traffic. It was just a fleeting moment that said…I could be ready. And I wouldn’t necessarily mind. In fact, it might just be the best thing ever.

{and I told her you went wandering down the halls of the hospital crying, 
“oh sweet Jesus, just take me home.” And I’m sure it was
bad then, but it’s a good laugh now, you know?}